Midday the 10th of December on the shores of an island in southernmost part of the Stockholm archipelago, a few brave coldwater surfers had arrived, facing the challenge to catch the biggest wave. With 5-meter faces and storm winds a total of eight surfers battled with the shore break and ripping current to make it out into the lineup. Only four surfers would make it out this day.
Oskar Nordin from Härnösand made it out first. ”That was only sheer luck”, Oskar told us later. He spent 15 minutes all by himself waiting for a bomb and with one failed attempt while trying to catch a wave that didn't offer a ride, the bigger wave behind it flushed Oscar towards the beach. Elis Weslien a strong paddler was also successful on making it out and catches a big wave getting his reward. Others were washed down with the current and forced a long walk back on the shore, trying to gather strength for another battle.
Australian natural born surfer Joel Den-Besten got an amazing ride after 20 minutes. Generating oohs and aahs from the audience he took off with a huge drop into bottom turn and a few moments later smoothly kicked out before the roaring whitewall could swallow him.
Not far after Joel took of on a set wave going left, completing the wave with two huge turns, impressing judges and crowd with some exceptionally smooth riding in the powerful surf.
Local hero Emanuel "Manne" Haglund struggled for a good 45 minutes trying to make it out. After being washed up on the shore for the second time, he walked past Nord team manager, Camilo Blomqvist, who thought that Manne, now frustrated and exhausted, was going call it a day. But Manne just kept walking until we could hardly see him on the beach. His absence had us all thinking he was out of the contest, but after paddling out at a far away point, he now drifted back southeast, joining Oskar and Joel in the lineup. In his mind; one final attempt.
At this point Oskar had caught his wave of the day, which was just slightly smaller than the one Joel had managed to catch.
Manne took a late technical drop on one wave, which boosted his confidence but it wasn't bigger than the best ride of the other two surfers. On his next attempt, the wave bumped him off his board and pushed him down to the stone ocean bottom.
”The frikkin' cold water held me down and I was down eating the rocks... when I finally got up I was ready to throw up”, Manne revealed later. Another surfer had also encountered the very same feeling.
After waiting out the back, trying to stay in position a set finally came rolling that raised the horizon for the three surfers. Joel Den-Besten caught the first wave and rode it well. Manne was in position for the next set wave. With Oskar cheering him on, he found his paddle power and at the peak of the wave jumped to his feet, speeding downhill on the wave of the day.
With the previous set wave cleaning up the bumps for him, Manne rides his wave cleanly, being cheered on by Joel paddling back out.
The surfers all got back into position but mother earth is grumpy. Eventually three tired surfers were gliding back in to the beach. A good day it was.
Thanks to everyone that came to battle out, to spectace and be a part of a new tradition, Reggie would go biggest wave ridden goes to: Emanuel Haglund!
Emanuel wins one week at surferslodgepeniche.com
Erik “Snaken” Lundberg
All photos by Håkan Nyberg: www.hakannyberg.com except nr.4 by Emil Weslien
Joel (photos 1 & 3)
Oskar (photos 6 & 7)
Manne (Photos 4,5 & 7)